Assault rifles, mortars among arms, ammunition looted from IRB camp in Manipur

Aug 04, 2023 09:37 AM IST

Mobs have stormed police stations and armouries and looted around 4,000 weapons and 500,000 rounds of ammunition since ethnic clashes were triggered in May

Around 500 people in over 40 vehicles and on foot looted arms and ammunition, including assault rifles and mortars, after attacking an Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) camp at Naranseina in ethnic violence hit Manipur’s Bishnupur district on Thursday, officials said on Friday.

Paramilitary personnel in Manipur. (ANI)
Paramilitary personnel in Manipur. (ANI)

In his complaint at Moirang police station, 2nd IRB battalion quarter master O Premananda Singh said the attackers overpowered the sentry at the main gate and the quarter guard after descending on the camp around 9:45am.

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“They broke two of the doors of battalion armed Kote [armoury] and looted a large number of arms, ammunition, munitions, and other accessories...320 rounds of ammunition and 20 tear smoke shells were fired to control the mob,” the complaint said.

An annexure listing the number of arms and ammunition looted said they included assault rifles, pistols, magazines, mortars, detonators, hand grenades, bombs, carbines, light machine guns, and over 19,000 rounds of ammunition.

One AK series assault rifle, 25 INSAS rifles, 4 Ghatak rifles, 5 INSAS LMGs, 5 MP-5 rifles, 124 hand grenades, 21 SMC carbines, 195 SLRs, 16 9mm pistols, 134 detonators, 23 GF rifles, 81 51mm HE bombs were among the arms looted.

Security forces separately fired tear gas shells and prevented mobs, which included women, on Thursday from storming a Manipur Rifles battalion at Kabo Leikai and Khabeisoi areas in Imphal East district and the Singjamei police station.

Mobs have stormed police stations and armouries and looted around 4,000 weapons and 500,000 rounds of ammunition since ethnic violence between the dominant Metei and Kuki communities was triggered on May 3. The violence has claimed 150 lives and displaced close to 50,000 people.

Authorities were able to recover only around 1,000 of the arms until the end of last month.The fresh arms loot in Bishnupur came amid tightened security in the region on the day a proposed mass burial of Kuki victims of the violence in neighbouring Churachandpur was postponed for a week.

The opposition of Meitei groups to the burials prompted the authorities to enhance security in Imphal, Bishnupur, and Churachanpur. Talks through the night between the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF), security forces, the state government, and the Union home ministry led postponement of the burials. The Manipur high court ordered “status quo ante” at the burial site.

At least 30 women suffered minor injuries when Meitei groups opposed to the mass burial attempted to cross barricaded zones into Churachandpur and threw stones at personnel of the Assam Rifles and Rapid Action Force who used tear gas shells to disperse the mob.

On Monday, ITLF, a conglomerate of Kuki organisations, announced the burial of 35 victims near the homes of displaced Meiteis. At least 87 bodies have been lying unclaimed in hospitals in Imphal and Churachandpur.

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    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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